The Metaverse for the aged care industry

By Angus Stevens, CEO and cofounder Start Beyond

When a 95-year-old woman with dementia was tasered by NSW Police at her aged care home earlier this year, it prompted an inquiry into how carers and facilities were falling short of community expectations with regard to how their loved ones were being treated.

According to the Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA), over the next decade Australia will require 110,000 aged care workers to meet demand – a target we are currently unlikely to meet given the attrition rate of workers and low migration over the past three years. However, funding, staff and skill shortages have provided an unexpected opportunity to look for innovation in the sector to make training and support more efficient and effective.

One such innovation is to use the metaverse for aged care training. Current training methods are most often ‘on the floor’ meaning staff receive limited practice beforehand or much support and it has the potential to be confronting for the less experienced learner carer as well as distressing for patients – using the metaverse means it needn’t be.

Start Beyond recently partnered with the Western District Health Service and South West TAFE in Victoria to develop an immersive VR training solution for TAFE students and aged care workers caring for people with dementia. The aim of moving this training into the metaverse was to improve carers’ soft skills, empathy and communication using VR scenarios rather than actual patients.

The scenarios were filmed from a first-person perspective, corresponding with the carer’s view, and depicted dementia patients speaking directly to camera to mimic a real-life interaction. This gives carers and students a safe space to develop their skills towards best practice and avoids the risk of upsetting patients if an inexperienced carer handles the interaction inappropriately. At completion, staff should come away with critical thinking skills they can confidently deploy when faced with distressed dementia patients.

Additionally, this VR solution can be integrated into the workforce routine for more timely skill-building – rather than waiting for a scenario to occur in real life – and it is more cost effective than ‘on the floor’ training.

In a skills shortage, industries need a systematic and short point-of-care education program to deliver training to time-poor workers. For understaffed and under-resourced sectors, immersive VR training can offer comprehensive skills development for new workers in an engaging manner, with the benefit of building confidence and reducing risk to patients.

Dementia care scenarios are just the start of what’s possible for how the metaverse can transform aged health care. What do you think we should consider next?

Start Beyond is Australia’s leading AR & VR company, backed with over 8 years of experience and hundreds of successful projects.  We create augmented reality and virtual reality experiences to help people gain knowledge and see the world differently. Our AR & VR platform provides our clients with the metaverse for learning.  We produce AR & VR education and training solutions, including AR & VR simulation, VR health, VR medical, VR therapy, AR marketing & sales, VR real estate and much more.

AR & VR training provides learners with knowledge that sticks.  It is cheaper and more memorable than traditional 2D methods.

Contact us for a demonstration of how AR and VR learning simulations can reduce costs, increase knowledge retention, and build high performing teams.